The year 2017 was remarkable for the Department of Trade and Industry – Regional Operations Group (DTI-ROG) for its efforts in providing the much needed help to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) even as it vowed to step up efforts in 2018 for the betterment of local entrepreneurs.

DTI Regional Operations Group supervising Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya said the agency will continue elevate its performance from the previous years to encourage more Filipinos to venture into business, resulting to more jobs.

“As part of the Trabaho at Negosyo agenda of the administration, we are proud to inform the public that the Regional Operations Group (ROG) in 2017 has worked with tireless enthusiasm with various partner agencies to support the growth of MSMEs in the country, with the establishment of the ever-increasing number of launched Negosyo Centers, established Shared Service Facilities and especially the landmark Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) Program,” Maglaya said.

Stressing that these initiatives of focusing on MSMEs will eventually result to more entrepreneurs, Maglaya said that employment and inclusive growth will follow, adding that the Regional Operations Group “would continue foster partnership between MSMEs, development partners, and the government.”

Among the many milestones of the Regional Operations Group are the release of loans to micro entrepreneurs through the P3 program, establishment of more over 700 Negosyo Centers throughout the country, Shared Service Facilities (SSF), creating smarter entrepreneurs through the Kapatid Mentor Me Program, mounting of Diskwento Caravans, SME Roving Academies (SMERA), Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs), the assistance to typhoon Yolanda victims through the Livelihood Seeding Program, National Industry Clustering, among others.

The Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) Program, the administration’s flagship program that aims to topple 5-6 lending scheme, has assisted 20,425 micro entrepreneurs, with a total of P812.12 million loans released.

The P3 program has also started in providing assistance to entrepreneurs who are affected by the Marawi siege with a total of P375,000 loans released to 37 Maranao entrepreneurs.

Maglaya said the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) Program is a huge relief for micro entrepreneurs who usually are vulnerable to loan sharks.

Likewise, the agency has also established more Negosyo Centers with already a total of 718 centers throughout the country.

Maglaya said that more Filipinos are now realizing the importance of putting up a business as reflected in the number of Negosyo Center clients assited with a total of 614,417 entrepreneurs.

With more MSMEs turning to Negosyo Center for assistance, Maglaya attributed the entrepreneurship surge to the agency’s continuing drive to introduce entrepreneurship as a steady source of income, while also recognizing the agency’s partnerships with other national government agencies, and non-government organizations (NGOs), local government units, and big corporations.

The Republic Act No. 10644 or the Go Negosyo Act aims to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), promote ease of doing business, facilitate access to grants and other forms of financial assistance, Shared Service Facilities (SSF) and other equipment, and other support for MSMEs through national government agencies (NGAs), ensure management guidance, assistance and improvement of the working conditions of MSMEs; and facilitate market access and linkaging services for entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, the Shared Service Facility (SSF), which provides MSMEs access to technology, machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills and knowledge under a shared system, continues to increase with 2,222 SSFs worth P1.188 billion throughout the country, benefitting 215,628 existing and potential MSMEs and has provided 111,747 jobs to Filipinos.

With access to better technology and more sophisticated equipment, MSMEs will have higher productivity, better and efficient products, higher levels of innovation and creativity, and improved market access to address the gaps and bottle necks in the global value chain being faced by MSMEs.

The equipment-sharing program also increases capabilities of both manufacturing and agriculture-based MSMEs to enable them to develop capacity and a culture of quality.

As backbone of the Philippine economic growth, MSMEs has since become a major priority of President Rodrigo Duterte, with DTI placing the sector’s development at the front and center of its Employment and Entrepreneurship (Trabaho at Negosyo) agenda.

Maglaya emphasized that the agency will continue with these initiatives “to bring the development to the countryside.”

Maglaya assured the agency will intensify its programs for MSME development by continuing its initiatives of uplifting the MSMEs and by continuing to raise the bar of service to the Filipino public.

“The ROG will continue to support MSMEs in facing challenges concerning business environment, productivity and efficiency, and access to finance and market as we continually strive to improve our brand of service to the public,” she said.♦